On Thursday I had in interesting conversation with someone I know pretty well. As we were talking, they shared with me how they were struggling mentally during a stressful time in their life. I was grateful they felt comfortable enough to share their experience with me.
I’m always amazed how freely people share what’s going on in their lives when given a safe place to do so. My encounter on Thursday also reminded me how important it is to actually listen. We’ve all got so much going on that it can be easy to rush through our interactions without really listening to what others are telling us. While this may be true, it’s no excuse for half-hearted listening when people are opening up and sharing their story with us.
Let’s make an effort to increase the legitimacy of our listening in the conversations we have with people. Wouldn’t we appreciate it if others did the same for us?
My sister and I were texting earlier this week about the nice sunny weather we were having. I suggested we get together for a nice walk one of these upcoming sunny mornings. She agreed. Not only that, her following text showed me her level of commitment, “Let’s just pick a day, or it won’t happen!!”
I couldn’t have agreed more.
When there is something we want to do, the best way to ensure that it actually happens is to just pick a day and get it on the calendar. It’s not difficult. Once you decided you’re committed to making it happen, open up the calendar and select a date and time that works. It really is that simple. A specific date and time equals commitment. “Someday” does not.
I’m looking forward to our scheduled walk with my sister this Saturday morning! We just picked a day.
Earlier this week we bought a new washer and drier. The repair man told us that the bearings on our old washer had gone out, and we’d be better off getting a new washer versus replacing this one. Initially, we were thinking we’d hold off getting a replacement until May, which would align well with a home improvement project we have scheduled. However, after the machine continued to get worse, we decided the best option would be to replace it now, on our own timeline.
My wife and I both agreed that as long as we kept using the rapidly deteriorating machine, we ran an ever-increasing risk of it failing in the middle of a load of wash. I don’t know what your experience has been, but appliance failures never seem to occur at a convenient time, and they usually generate unneeded stress and inconvenience. Especially if we knew in advance that a failure was imminent.
We decided that, since we knew we needed to replace the washer, we should do it on a timeframe that is convenient for us versus letting the machine dictate a less convenient timeframe via a massive failure.
I think there are a lot of things in life that we can address on our own timeframe, versus waiting for a failure to determine our timeframe for taking corrective action. These things can range from appliance replacements to adopting a healthier lifestyle to maintaining relationships and beyond.
Let’s be aware of the areas in our lives where we can take action to mitigate unnecessary risks and damage, versus waiting for things to blow up before they get our attention. And when we become aware of these areas, let’s actually take the necessary action when it’s time to act.
Our house has been feeling rather full, in a cluttered since lately, so a couple of weekends ago, my wife and I went through several closets and rooms and got rid of stuff we no longer use. It was amazing how much stuff we had that fell into that category! What’s even more interesting is that I don’t even miss a single thing I got rid of.
What I do enjoy, much more than the exiled stuff, is the free space I have in rooms, closets, bookshelves, and cabinets. There’s such a calming feeling when every inch of a bookshelf isn’t stuffed full of books I’ll likely never read again. Likewise, a closet with much available space is much more fun to interact with than one that’s jammed full of unused clothing that obscures the clothes I actually do wear.
It’s hard to believe that a carload full of stuff taken to Goodwill can have such a positive impact on my surroundings.
Are there any items you know you’ll no longer use that you need to get rid of or give to someone else who can use them? If so, I encourage you to do it as soon as possible. Not only will you enjoy interacting with your newly uncluttered space, you will most likely not even miss the times you get rid of.
While I was eating breakfast on Thursday morning, I was also listening to an audio book titled, The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, And More Creative. It’s very interesting and has me excited to get out side and go for a hike!
At about 7:20 AM, I was listening to the author talk about the impacts of noise pollution and how our quite places in the world are rapidly diminishing when I heard a loud noise outside our house. At first, I thought it was a life flight helicopter, so I peeked out the window to catch a glimpse. It turned out not to be a helicopter, but rather a street sweeper making a rather early pass up and down our street. While I do appreciate a clean street, 7:20 AM seems like a little early!
I laughed out loud at the irony going on right outside my house. How funny that a loud street cleaner would be going by at the same time I was listening to a chapter about the negative impacts of noise pollution. It was a fun note to start my morning on.
There are a lot of funny things going on in the world. And by “funny” I mean the “HAHA” type of funny like a streetsweeper going by at the very moment I’m being warned of the dangers of noise pollution. While it seems easy to notice things that frustrate or offend us, I would challenge us to instead keep an eye open for all the humor and funny things that are going on around us instead. Noticing them is sure to bring a smile to your face, and that’s a great accessory to greet the day with.
“The more you love in life, the more life has to offer.” ~ Lee (my bass instructor)
During a bass lesson this week with my instructor Lee, he mentioned how limiting your exposure to only one specific type of music holds you back from new perspectives and ideas that can be applied to your own music style. His example made a lot of sense. If I only listen to say, country music (which I happen to like) then I will only experience music through that lens. My playing will come to only sound like what I hear in country songs, and I won’t have the opportunity to learn and apply ideas from other music genres. Lee’s comment resonated with me, not only in the musical context, but in the larger context of a life well lived.
Imagine for a minute that the only food you absolutely loved was pizza. Now imagine that you ate pizza as often as you could because you loved it so much, but when you couldn’t have pizza, you were disappointed in the alternative. Yes, I know there are a lot of different varieties of pizza toppings to keep interesting for a long time, but how limiting to think that of all the food choices available to you, that you would be disappointed with anything that wasn’t the single food you loved.
I think we can also be narrow in our love for a number of things beyond food and music, such as
- Areas of interest
- Types of books
- Topics of conversation
- How we use our gifts and talents
- How we spend our time
- Seasons of the calendar
- Seasons of life
Consider your capacity to love broadly in the topics listed above or others you’re thinking of that weren’t on the list. The more that we love, be it people places or things, the more opportunities we have for our lives to intersect with those things we love. I for one, am eager to live a life full of intersections with the things I love.
Gyms in Oregon have been closed due to COVID-19 restrictions since sometime in November. This has been disappointing because for years, I’ve been in the habit of going to the gym to exercise first thing every morning. It’s a nice way to start my mornings and stets a positive tone for the rest of the day.
Unfortunately, I hadn’t found a substitute for my morning gym routine, other than walking a few times a day. However, with all the emotionally heavy events that occurred in the US in December and January, I knew that I had to come up with a solution.
Since I don’t have a bunch of weights and exercise equipment at home, I started looking for options that use your body weight as resistance. Fortunately, there are plenty of possibilities, so I created an exercise plan and, starting this week, have been back in the habit of exercising first thing in the morning! I’ve enjoyed being back in the habit, and know it will be a good alternative until the gyms finally reopen.
Although it took me long enough, I’m thankful I finally caused something to happen to get me back in an exercise routine, instead of sitting around waiting for someone ese to decide it’s time to reopen the gyms in Oregon.
If there’s something you want or need, don’t sit and wait for someone else to make it happen for you. Decide what action YOU need to take to bring it about, and then take that action!
Why should we wait on someone else’s timeline when we can decide to create our own?
2021 looks promising, although it did start off a little bumpy. Since we’ll soon be getting back to life that includes more events and interactions with others, it’s important to remember that we are the ones who decide what events we allow on our calendars.
When you’re considering scheduling an event, make sure you’re not doing it out of a false sense of obligation, or because you feel you can’t say, “No” to something you really have no interest in doing.
I would argue that our time is more valuable than money, because we can always get more money. That’s is something we can’t do with time. The limit on a day is 24 hours, we can’t get more. The only choice we have is how we’ll spend the finite amount of time we’ve been given. Therefore, we need to make sure that it is our priorities that fill our calendars in 2021, not someone elses.
With COIVD-related restrictions and choices an omnipresent reality of the 2020 holiday season, it’s easy to become frustrated by how abnormal everything is this year. While it’s true that things look different this year, I want to encourage you that this is not how Christmas, or any other holiday, will look forever more. Remember that this current state is indeed temporary. Before we know it, we will be celebrating holidays with family and friends again.
My pastor signs all his emails with a phrase that I think is especially fitting for this year, “Believing the best is yet to come”. I think that true. We only have to be willing to cast our gaze beyond what’s happening today.
I’m currently reading a book about the SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft. It was developed in the 60s and was way ahead of its time, with regards to engineering and performance. This plane could travel at altitudes of 80,000 feet with a speed greater than Mach 3 (3X the speed of sound). Were it in service today, it would still be ahead of it’s time and considered futuristic.
As I was reading a chapter last night about the people involved in the design stage of the SR-71, I was impressed how all these people came together and gave the best of their abilities to bring this aircraft from an idea to a reality. The technology to build an SR-71 didn’t exist, so they had to figure it out as they went. When you consider all the obstacles, it’s an amazing feat that the SR-71 became a reality.
Imagine if the members of this group didn’t give the best they were capable of. Suppose people on the team just gave minimal effort that was far below their intellectual capacity. If that were the case, the SR-71 would have fallen far short of the requirements presented to the team. Even more likely, this project would have been canceled and considered an impossible feat, if not an outright failure. The difference was the people on the team collectively gave their best.
While we my not be part of a team designing supersonic reconnaissance aircraft, we are all a part of some team where we have an opportunity to give our best effort. That team may consist of a family, a group of co-workers, a band, a sports team, or any other group of people brought together to achieve a common goal. Regardless of the type of team we’re on, the members of the team counting on us to give our best. In my opinion, if we’re willing to be on a team, we should also be willing to bring the best effort we’re capable of.
So why should we bother to bring our best effort? There a several good answers to this question, but for me, there is one reason that stands above all others. During the Christmas season, I’m again reminded that God gave His best for me in his son Jesus. Out of gratitude, how could I offer anything less than my best back to Him?